Clear blue skies and a fluffy white solitary cloud – who says it’s always raining in Scotland? It’s been so tranquil up here – every colour, sound, and even smell, seem to have more clarity. We are burning peat on the fire, a proficient generator of very fine dust, the colour of burnt sienna – a nightmare for the house proud, but a potential art material for me. The peat itself looks like dried elephant dung – so perhaps I could use it in the manner of Chris Ofili or the dust as a substitute pastel pigments! Peat has a distinct smell, and I dare say we smell of it, a bit like Laphroaig – an unusual perfume, but one I think I can live with. Breathe in deep down on the beach and there’s a wonderful smell of the sea – rotting seaweed, lovely. Perhaps I’m a bit odd (no comments necessary!) but something else that gets me going is the smell of sheep. I’ve finished my first fair isle knitting pattern at last and, in anticipation of my next project, I have received some colour cards of Shetland wool in every shade you can think of. They are delicious, smell of sheep and are as pretty as a new box of pastels. I was even more delighted to discover that I can use Excel to design fair isle patterns – all of a sudden those dull text books I’m reading have become far more interesting!